Money Problems May Force Garbage Sifting Project to Close

The Environmental Protection Ministry recently declared that its central goal in the coming years is to promote separation of household garbage into "dry" and "wet" garbage, the latter of which will be sent for recycling. However, it's flagship project in this realm - a grass-roots garbage separation project that has been underway for the past five years at Moshav Kerem Maharal on Mount Carmel - is in danger of ceasing its operations for lack of funding.

The residents of this moshav north of the town of Zichron Yaakov weed out their dry garbage, mainly paper and plastic, from their organic garbage, which includes mainly food scraps. The project was initiated and funded by a local non-profit association, Land of the Carmel, headed by a Kerem Maharal resident, Amiad Lapidot.

Lapidot even funded part of the project out of his own pocket, and was also helped by the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council.

A few weeks ago, however, Lapidot told his neighbors that the association did not have the money to continue funding the project, which would therefore have to close down beginning next month.

"We asked the regional council to participate to the tune of NIS 3,000 a month," Lapidot wrote residents. "As a son of this community and the founder of the project, who has invested so much in it, it is very difficult for me to stop it, but the economic consideration outweighs the emotional one."

A number of Kerem Maharal's residents who are involved in the project have also recently appealed to the regional council, and asked that they be given the funding that will allow the garbage separation project to continue to operate.

The project, which started with only 12 households, continued to grow until it involved all the households in the community. Every year the residents collect some 140 tons of organic garbage, which they send to a nearby site where it is processed into agricultural fertilizer.

Separating the garbage saves transportation to a landfill - which is funded by the regional council - and has also prevented the release of some 70,000 tons of greenhouse gases.

The Hof Hacarmel Regional Council said that budget cuts had made it difficult to find funding for the garbage separation project, but it would make efforts to obtain the required money. "I heard from the council that they plan to ask the Environmental Protection Ministry for help," Lapidot told Haaretz yesterday, "but approval procedures to get funding can take many months, during which we will not be able to fund it."